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Loch Ness Village plans fall through in Dunedin

Plans for a $3-million Scottish-themed shopping village that would have been one of the biggest projects in downtown have been scrapped.

The 1.5-acre site for Loch Ness Village at the corner of Highland Avenue and Skinner Boulevard is for sale. Margie and Jeff Maddock, the Dunedin couple who dreamed up the village after visiting Scotland and spent two years working on the project, said the money wasn't there to make Loch Ness Village happen.

"We couldn't get the cash we needed to do the project," Mrs. Maddock said. "Because it was so different, the banks weren't interested in doing anything."

In October, the couple thought financing for the complex was secure with a private investor when they held a groundbreaking ceremony with much fanfare. At the time, the Maddocks expected construction on Loch Ness Village to begin in November. But the deal fell through days later, Maddock said.

"It was like three days after that the gentleman who had all the money lost it," Maddock said. "We didn't realize he had it invested in something else. We thought it was very secure _ otherwise we would not have gone ahead with the big groundbreaking."

The couple tried to renew the effort but decided about three weeks ago, "there just comes a point in time when you say you can't," Maddock said. "We did our best."

City officials had hoped the village, with 13 apartments and 13 shops in five buildings, would boost their effort to extend downtown beyond Main Street. Loch Ness Village in a prominent corner of north downtown would have served as an anchor.

Also, the Maddocks had planned to have an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants in Loch Ness Village along with a statue of Nessie, the fabled Scottish monster. City officials had expected the village to be a destination.

"It was one of these projects we were very excited about," said Robert Ironsmith, Dunedin economic development director. "It's unfortunate the developers weren't able to bring it to fruition. We stand by ready to assist in any way we can with any new development proposition.

"We think the property would lend itself well for residential or commercial or a mixed use."

The Maddocks, who own an interior design company downtown, said they are grateful for the community support the project generated.

"We're, of course, disappointed we're not able to complete the project," Mrs. Maddock said. "I joke that the Loch Ness Monster just decided it was too hot in Florida."

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